Unstructured Data – Avoiding the Curse of the Blob

23 January 2019All, IT Services, Panzura


Unstructured Data – Avoiding the Curse of the Blob

In the same way you may have explained to a teacher in the long-ago past, “the dog ate my homework,” you may someday have to explain to your boss, “the computer ate my data.” Hearing that hasn’t gotten any easier over time, and neither has the telling. Only now, the stakes are higher. These days, data is money to your firm. Whereas 30 years ago, the greatest mobility your data ever got was when you hit “send” on the fax machine and your drawings flew through the air and landed inside someone else’s fax machine and printed on slick, curly paper, the situation is a bit different now. Over 20,000 billion GBs of data were generated worldwide in 2018, with machine-generated data growing 50-times faster than other types. According to Panzura, a leading provider of software-defined storage solutions, 90% of the world’s data was created in the past two years, and most of it is machine-generated and unstructured.

The term “structured data” means it has been organized into a formatted and usable form, for instance a relational database. Unstructured data is all that other stuff out there – videos, photographs, audio files, movies, telemetry sensor data, documents, log files, seismic data, selfies of Kim Kardashian, and on and on. Then there’s “Blob,” an acronym for Binary Large OBject, which may be executable code or multimedia objects, also forms of unstructured data. This Blob won’t consume everything in its path, but its very existence serves as a tangible heads-up about the many forms of data, how fragile they can be, and thus, how important it is to properly store data and objects.

See an example of Blob Databases in Plant 3D.

Cloud data storage has become all the rage, and there’s a good reason why. Having been in the CAD business since 1982, I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve heard, “We had a hard drive fail and lost all of our drawings.” No backup? Are you kidding? You may guffaw and slap your knee in amazement, but even in this day and age, many people don’t get really serious about backups or redundant storage until they’ve had a catastrophic loss.

If you’ve ever seen the boast of “11 nines of reliability” in relation to cloud storage and wondered what the heck that’s all about, here’s a layman’s summary. The 11 nines are numerical digits in the percentage of how reliable the annual storage of your data is – in this case 99.9999999%. The general concept is, if you stored ten million files, you could expect to lose one every 10,000 years. This is in stark contrast to storing your files on your hard drive, where, with one errant mouse click you can delete over 100 pictures of your brother’s wedding (which I did). If only those pictures had been archived using Panzura.

The benefits of Panzura include:

  • Reduced data storage costs.
  • Unlimited capacity.
  • Reduced office infrastructure.
  • Local caching for active data.
  • Cloud storage for cold data.
  • Consolidated backup and tape archive operations.
  • Enterprise file system purpose-built for the cloud.
  • Global collaboration in real-time.

Paying someone to monitor network attached storage (NAS), backups and redundant backups certainly is still an option – if your firm has the dedicated budget for it. On the other hand, when you move your data to the cloud you don’t have to buy more servers or pay more salaries.

How is Panzura Different?

  1. First and foremost, it’s the only one with multi-site, real-time file locking.
  2. Multi-cloud deployment – freedom to move your data from cloud to cloud on the big guys: Microsoft Azure or AWS (Amazon Web Services).
  3. Doesn’t get between you and your data – it doesn’t hold your data hostage.
  4. Scales with your firm as you grow – gives you the ability to add virtual office locations without the expensive infrastructure.
  5. File locking – AE teams, especially, have no problem working in the same project at the same time.
  6. Unrestricted – Whatever application you’re using, it will work for you.
  7. New pricing – Panzura just released brand new per-terrabyte pricing structure that you may find pleasantly surprising.

If these things matter to you, and it’s time for you to protect your data and Blob, contact Applied Software to discuss how Panzura can work for your firm.



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